Will taking time to raise my child hurt my career?

I’ve been on maternity leave for five years. I’m ready to go back into full-time work, but how should I word this gap into my cover letter without looking like I took an extended vacation?

Are you kidding me, mom? Did it feel like an extended vacation? I am a dad, and I love parenting, but it’s no vacation, particularly with newborns and toddlers (unless, of course, you live on the Upper East Side and your children are raised by the nanny, and you actually did have a five-year vacation). Proudly explain what you’ve been doing for five years, then quickly pivot to your career and the skills and experience you acquired before maternity leave, and state that you are ready to re-enter the workforce. There are various firms that help women transition back — research them online to see which might be right for you. There are also lists of the best companies for working moms, so check them out. Be aware that you may not be able to re-enter at the same level job you had before, so the more flexible you are, the easier it will be. But any firm that thinks you’ve been on vacation, or holds it against you that you took time off to raise a family, is not one you want to work for anyway.

I received an offer to which I must respond within 72 hours. However, their background check will take 30 to 50 days. I expect to hear back from two other positions within that time frame. Can I accept one of those positions after accepting the initial offer?

What the heck? Did you get an offer from the FBI or CIA or something? No regular position that I can think of requires a background check that would take up to two months to complete. In that instance, no one could blame you for accepting another position in the meantime. That’s two months of lost income. And what happens if something comes up that results in them rescinding the offer? Unless this is some top-secret clearance job and you fear waking up one day to find your identity never existed (what, you don’t watch cable news and all of the shows on Netflix?), I think you’re safe to accept another job in the meantime and see how it all plays out.

Gregory Giangrande is a chief human resources and communications officer in the media industry. E-mail your career questions to [email protected] Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande. His Go to Greg podcast series is available on iTunes.

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